Insp Matt Lawler
TEENAGERS — most of them too young to drive — are the latest recruits to a police campaign aimed at getting motorists in Tiverton to cut their speed.
For Tiverton Police Cadets, who were formed at the end of last year, it was one of their first high-profile duties, working with police officers during a two-hour Community Speed Watch last Thursday, February 11.
Drivers travelling too fast were not issued with tickets, but were instead spoken to by a member of the cadet force, aged between 12 and 17.
Matt Lawler, sector inspector for Mid Devon, explained: "Provided the driver was happy to be engaged by the cadet, they were asked a series of questions, including how they would feel if they knocked someone down.
"The drivers found that sort of question coming from a young person quite challenging."
Insp Lawler said: "This was the first time the cadets have done this. It gives them training in how to use speed gun equipment and builds their confidence in speaking to members of the public."
He said the cadets had been accompanied by a traffic officer and a local officer. If a motorist appeared to have been drink-driving or was unwilling to co-operate, the uniformed officers would take over.
More than 100 youngsters applied for a place in the cadets when the scheme was launched last September. Following 12 weeks of training, including first aid skills, developing good citizenship traits and building self-confidence and discipline, the first 26 cadets graduated in December.
The cadets spoke to six drivers outside the youth centre in Park Road and three more in Lea Road.
Insp Lawler stressed the initiative was just one way the police were tackling speeding in the town and dismissed concerns that it diverted resources from frontline policing.
"The cadets aren't funded directly by the police, and we are grateful for the support of local county and town councillors."
He said other police forces were monitoring the success of the scheme.
"We were joined on the evening by officers from Wiltshire police, who are keen to establish their own police cadet scheme and had heard how successful we have been and of the support we have in the community."
ON the same evening, police monitored drivers as they drove through the Walronds, another Tiverton speeding hotspot.
PC Saren Isaac, neighbourhood beat manager for Westexe, said: "Speeding is a big problem for residents living in Westeve, particularly at night, so we monitored traffic heading in both directions between 8pm and 10pm."
She said tickets were issued to motorists travelling over 40mph while those clocked in excess of 37mph but under 40mph received verbal warnings.